DWI in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from Austin DWI Attorneys with 30 Years’ Experience
You don’t want your DWI case to be handled by an inexperienced attorney. Knowledge and experience with DWI cases is of utmost importance for your defense and can make the difference between being acquitted or convicted. Our Austin DWI attorneys have the experience you need to aggressively fight for your case. Attorneys Meredith “Shelly” Troberman and Blair Carroll have ample experience with Texas DWI cases and outstanding professional relationships with Travis County Court judges, prosecutors and staff workers.
If your questions are not listed below, or if you would like to learn more, call Carroll Troberman, PLLC at (512) 772-2442 to schedule a free consultation.
Do I Have to Take a Blood or Breath Test?
Texas has an implied consent law. This law means that if you are arrested for a DWI, then you consent to taking either a blood or chemical test to determine the level of alcohol content that’s in your blood. If you do refuse the test, then your refusal can be held against you in court and your license will be suspended for 180 days.
How Soon after My Charges Should I Hire a Defense Attorney?
Ideally, the sooner the better, if you want to keep your license, you’ll need to put in a request for a hearing within 15 days of your DWI arrest. So, if you want to attempt to keep your license, you’ll want a DWI lawyer on your case as soon as possible. If you don’t file a hearing, then you lose your chance to fight for the ability to keep your license.
Will My License Be Suspended Automatically?
Your license suspension will depend upon the actions you take immediately following your arrest. If you do not file a hearing within 15 days of your arrest or if your blood alcohol percentage was above 0.08 percent, then your license will be suspended.
If My License Was Suspended, Can I Still Get a Temporary License for Work?
Once again, this depends on your previous criminal record and driving record, but in most cases, yes you will usually be able to get an Occupational Driver’s License which will enable you to drive to and from work.
If This Is My First DWI, Will I Receive Jail Time?
If this is your first alcohol related offense, then you will most likely avoid any jail time. However, this depends on the details of your case.
What Are the Usual Penalties for First-Time DWI Offenders?
The usual first-time penalties involve a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time that is no less than 72 hours and no more than 180 days. However, if it’s your first offense, sometimes the time spent in jail will be waived.
Depending upon the details of your case your license may also be suspended for a time that is no less than 90 days and no more than 1 year.
What Are the DWI Penalties for Second-Time Offenders?
A second-time DWI offender will see their fine increase to $4,000, as well as an increase in jail time, with a possible sentence of a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail. The license suspension will also increase to no less than 6 months and no more than 2 years.
What Are the DWI Penalties for Third-Time Offenders?
If you’ve been convicted of a DWI for the third time, then you’ve just committed a 3rd degree felony. The fine will increase greatly, facing costs of up to $10,000. The time spent in jail will also increase to no less than 2 years and no more than ten years. You will also be facing a possible license suspension of two years.
What Are the Drunk Driving laws in Texas?
The drunken driving laws in Texas are based upon driving with a blood alcohol level, or BAC, that’s above the legal limit. The enforced legal limits are below:
- Under the age of 21, a BAC of .02 or more
- Drivers of all ages, a BAC of .08 or more
- Any commercial vehicle drivers, a BAC of .04 or more
Anytime you exceed this limit, you run the risk of getting convicted for a DWI.
How Many Drinks Does It Take to Surpass the Legal Limit?
The legal limit in Texas is a BAC of .08. This score is determined by a variety of different factors, including: age, weight, sex, and the time interval in which you consumed your drinks. There are some basic calculators and phone apps which purport to calculate your BAC. However, if you are planning on drinking it’s smarter to abstain from alcohol completely.
Will I Lose My License if I am Charged with a DWI?
A DWI offense in Texas can lead to a suspension of your license for a period of 90 days up to 2 years. The length of suspension is determined based on a driver’s age, blood alcohol level, circumstances of the offense, and prior convictions.
Are DWI Laws Different for Minors?
Yes, for minors the state of Texas has a “zero tolerance” drinking and driving law. This means that anyone under 21 can be charged for drunk driving if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Do DWI Convictions Stay on My Record Forever?
Yes, they do. A DWI charge is classified as a misdemeanor or in more serious cases felonies, which go on your record if you are convicted. With the help of a good lawyer however, it is sometimes possible to get a DWI charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser traffic violation, in which case you won’t get a conviction on your criminal record.
What Does “Per Se” Intoxication Mean?
A driver is intoxicated “per se” when they have a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. According to Texas law, the driver can be convicted for drunk driving based on this blood alcohol test alone, with no additional proof needed.
What Is an Enhanced DWI Punishment?
For DWIs where the driver has a blood alcohol level of .15 or more you can get an “enhanced punishment”, meaning that you can get punished with higher fines and a longer jail sentence. If you are looking at enhanced penalties you should immediately hire an experienced DWI lawyer.
Do I Really Need a DWI Attorney?
This depends on your case, but, in most cases, it is advisable to hire a DWI attorney. A DWI attorney can help you get a reduced sentence or even an acquittal in some cases. Also, after a DWI arrest your license will automatically be suspended 40 days after your arrest if you don’t challenge the suspension within 15 days after your arrest. Your DWI attorney can help you request a hearing with the Department of Public Safety to challenge the automatic suspension.
Will a Conviction Affect My Insurance Rate?
Yes, it will. Insurance rates can go up drastically after a DWI conviction. Obviously driving under the influence increases your chances of getting in an accident, which your insurer realizes. Sometimes they will even cancel your policy.
Can My DWI Case Get Dismissed?
In some case DWIs get dismissed. This very much depends on the circumstances of the case however. For some cases there is no way around a conviction, in others a DWI attorney could get the case dismissed or charges reduced.
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